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Homily of His Beatitude Fouad Twal
Openning Liturgy 6th October 2010
World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations
Dear Sisters in Christ of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organization, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Holy City of Jerusalem, and even to the Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Ever since meeting your President, Karen Hurley in Rome last year, I have very much desired to know you and your organization better. But even more than that, I have desired that the women of this diocese, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, might know you better, and that your sisterhood in Christ might help sustain the faith and mission of our women and families here. So, whereas it is always a great pleasure for me to welcome pilgrims here to the Holy Land, and indeed a sacred duty, there is a special joy that I have in welcoming you. Welcome!
From Vatican 1 October 2010
SECRETARIAT OF STATE
Mrs. Karen Hurley
World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizatons
Dear Mrs. Hurley
The Holy Father was pleased to be informed that the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organization it’s celebrating its Centenary this year with an Assembly in Jerusalem from 5 to 12 October, and he sends cordial greetings and prayerful good wishes to all who gathered for this significant initiative.
Noting that you have chosen as the title for your Assembly the words of the Risen Lord, “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8) His Holiness gives thanks for the many blessings that have been bestowed on the Church through the witness of faithful Catholic women living and working in the world, transforming it from within, and proclaiming the Gospel in the word and in deed. In its one hundred years of history, the members of WUCWO have contributed to the Church’s mission at local, national and international levels, according to the special dignity and vocation of women, enriching the Church with “the fruits of feminine holiness” (Mulieris Dignitatem, 31). The Holy Father invokes a fresh outpouring of the Spirit’s gifts upon your Organization, so that it may continue to foster the unique contribution of women to the life and mission of the Church, both in the public sphere and in the home.
Commending all those present at the Assembly and their families to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, the Holy Father gladly imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of unity and peace in the Risen Lord
Your sincerely in Christ
Secretary of State
● We acknowledge with gratitude the 100 years of vision, endeavour and commitment that leaders and members of what began in 1910, as the International Union of Catholic Women‟s Leagues, now known as the World Union of Catholic Women‟s Organisations have given to society and the Church throughout the century.
● We acknowledge that because of such vision and endeavour that Catholic women, working in accord with the Church and its teachings, were able to identify the many societal inadequacies and injustices impacting on the lives of women and families and worked assiduously to overcome them. WUCWO women do the same today.
● While acknowledging the many areas of service that Catholic women have already undertaken, we reaffirm the aim of WUCWO which is, “to promote the presence, participation and co-responsibility of Catholic women in society and the Church, in order to enable them to fulfil their mission of evangelisation and to work for human development” in unity, particularly for increasing educational opportunities, poverty reduction and the advancement of human rights beginning with the fundamental right to life.
● WUCWO women reiterate that the dignity, value and “genius” of women should be universally recognised, and that the importance of intergenerational relationships and the involvement of youth, and the cultural and theological contributions of women be supported and recognised for the attainment of a more humane, just and compatible society.
● Gathered together in Jerusalem, city of peace “a microcosm of our globalised world…this city,…a place that teaches the universality and respect for others, dialogue and mutual understanding; a place where prejudice, ignorance and fear that fuels them, are overcome by honesty, integrity and the pursuit of peace” [Pope Benedict XVI, Jerusalem 2009], with this perspective, in solidarity we commit ourselves to the study and witness of the Word of God and the Social Teachings of the Church, to ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue and to peacemaking.
● At the beginning of the 2nd century of such commitment, WUCWO women pray through their Patroness Mary, Queen of Peace, that they too will, ‘Receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses……………indeed to the ends of the earth’ [Acts 1:8.] just as the Lord said the Father „had promised‟ the apostles in Jerusalem. [Acts: 1:5]
End the Use of Information Technology in Sexual Exploitation of Children
In an attempt to minimise sexual exploitation and harassment of children through Information Technology use, and to maximise parental obligations relating to it, WUCWO Member Organisations, where appropriate, will advocate for:
(i) Diocesan and other institutions training programs for parents to improve their levels of understanding of and guidance for their children about Information Technology, to include
(ii) Strategies to enhance quality of parental relationships for young and/or dual-working parents, and to assist them to be Christian role models for their children.
Promote a Covenant between Human Beings and the Environment
WUCWO Member Organisations resolve to facilitate educational programmes that enhance our understanding of local, regional and global ecological issues and the teachings of the Magisterium on ecology. These programmes should integrate respect for life and our responsibilities to future generations.
Rescue the Children of the Street
All WUCWO Member Organisations will fight against poverty and social exclusions because ‘children of the street’ are a new expression of growing poverty, of extreme distress and of the fragility of the formal and informal social welfare system.
Campaign for a Culture of Life
WUCWO Member Organisations will assist women to understand that the ‘right to life’ must be preserved, by
(i) facilitating study of the teachings contained in Pope John Paul II’s catechesis: “Theology of the Body,” in order to enable them to build their understanding of the meaning of life and therefore
(ii) to act on it with greater involvement wherever possible.
Work to Abolish Forced Marriage
WUCWO, as a Public International Association of the Faithful, will uphold the dignity and rights of women and children by making a strong statement against forced marriage of girl-children.
In order to raise awareness of this inhumane and abusive practice:
(i) The official spokeswoman of WUCWO will advocate for a changed attitude to forced marriage
to leaders of civil society at international level and,
(ii) WUCWO Member Organisations will do the same to leaders of civil society at local and national levels.
Strengthen Training of Catholic Leaders
WUCWO Member Organisations will spread tools for the formation of Catholic leaders and facilitate the exchange of experiences in this regard among its Member Organisations and through dialogue between men and women.
Defend and Support Migrants
(i) WUCWO Member Organisations will promote and support initiatives to protect migrants and their families and defend their human rights.
(ii) WUCWO Member Organizations will support and / or establish programs that provide care and protection for migrants and their families.
Commit to Ecumenical and Interfaith Dialogue
WUCWO will establish permanent relations with the representatives and organisations from different faiths at the international and regional levels and will incorporate in Assemblies and Regional Conferences an Ecumenical and Interreligious space such as round tables, discussion panels etc. It will promote this among its Member Organisations and encourage joint actions of service to the community with organizations with whom it shares ethical and spiritual values, especially those that favor the promotion of women.
Produce a Statistical Evaluation of Poverty According to Sex
All WUCWO Member Organisations will exhort governmental and non governmental agencies, in their country and on a regional and international level, to conduct a statistical evaluation of poverty according to sex. The Organisations will also commit to associating themselves with all their ability and skill to this effort which is the only way to influence national and international policies to make them more effective.
Prevent Inappropriate Sexualisation of Children
WUCWO Member Organisations will contact their respective governments, civil society authorities and Church agencies relating to the prevention of inappropriate and/or premature sexualisation of children, by limiting:
(i) Sexual information that is inappropriate for young children and
(ii) Aggressive marketing methods that promote the sale of sexually provocative children’s clothing.
Mobilise to Halt Infanticide
WUCWO Member Organisations make a commitment to exhort their governments to develop policies of job creation, immigration management and the integration of education in family life into their official programs in order to halt infanticide in countries where this occurs. Further, WUCWO member organisations will request their relevant church agencies to promote the sexual formation of young people through catechesis and pastoral social counselling.
Reaffirm the Family Unit
WUCWO Member Organisations will contact their respective governments, together with religious bodies of all Christian denominations and those of other faiths, requesting that governments and civil society authorities give clear and unambiguous support in defence of heterosexual, monogamous marriage. Further, that those governments acknowledge and affirm parents’ right to protect their children from external influences which seek to negate parental responsibility and which may be detrimental to relationships within that Family Unit.